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Morning Read: D.C.: A Growing Mormon Stronghold

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    AURORA, CO - JUNE 20: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney speaks with the media after visiting the Brewery Bar IV on June 20, 2011 in Aurora, Colorado. Romney met with a group of small business owners at the Colorado bar on a campaign stop before attending an evening fundraiser. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    The Washington D.C. area has become an unexpected Mormon stronghold in recent years, with the Latter-day Saints—who are sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Mormon mafia” in D.C.—playing a big and growing role in the Washington establishment.

    According to a CNN article, the LDS church says there are 13,000 active Mormon members within a 10-mile radius of Washington.

    There are now 15 Mormon members in Congress—including Senate Majority Harry Reid—meaning that the 2 percent of the population that is Mormon is slightly overrepresented in Congress.

    The CNN article explains that religion brings many of these Mormons to the District.

    Brigham Young University—a Mormon university in Provo, Utah—has a four-story dorm on Pennsylvania Avenue that house 120 student interns from BYU a year.

    VIA CNN:

    “Part of our church’s tradition is to be connected with civic life, to make our communities better,” says BYU’s Scott Dunaway, who helps place students on Capitol Hill, at the Smithsonian and other Washington institutions. “We don’t believe in being reclusive.”

    The article states that with or without Romney, D.C. is still a Mormon stronghold. But still, many are naturally speculating what it would mean for the population if Romney is elected to office. 

    “A lot of us know it’s ultimately a good thing, but it’s hard to feel like it’s a good thing because so much of the publicity is about things you wouldn’t talk about in polite company, like my underwear,” says Pederson, referring to the enduring fascination with Mormon undergarments.

    Read more of CNN’s long feature on Washington’s growing Mormon population.

    From WAMU:

    DC Vote's Iler Zherka is outraged about Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) continuing to meddle in local affairs. The latest example: Franks is pushing a bill that would ban abortions in D.C. after twenty weeks, and he also refused to let D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) speak at the hearing.

    "But if Franks continues to pretend that he's D.C.'s mayor, then we are going to respond in kind," Zherka says.

    Zherka is organizing a "D.C. Constituency Day" on Capitol Hill next week. He's encouraging District residents to show up at Franks' office and vent about their problems.


    * On a campaign stop Thursday at AOL Dulles headquarters, Democratic Senate hopeful Tim Kaine said that while the federal government should contribute to the funding for Phase 2 of the Silver Line, Virginia needs to pay a bigger share than the $150 million it has already committed.

    VIA Patch

    "I believe it is a project of federal significance because it links Dulles with the most important capital city in the world," he said. "But when it comes to the state being a meaningful participant, Virginia has fallen short too. What i will try to do is go in and fight hard for federal support, but make it contingent is the state does the same thing."

    Kaine launched a two-week campaign tour Thursday that partly aims to target senior voters and draw a contrast with opponent George Allen who “voted to shift Social Security dollars to private accounts and continues to praise plans that would drive up health care costs for seniors and turn Medicare into a voucher program,” a Kaine spokeswoman said according to The RTD.

    Kaine’s campaign said it would discuss his plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

    Allen’s response, VIA RTD.

    “ObamaCare, which Tim Kaine called a ‘great achievement,’ makes Democrats the only party with a plan to bankrupt Medicare by cutting $500 Billion,” she said. “Now Tim Kaine is resorting to recycling Washington-style scare tactics in an attempt to distract Virginians from his record of supporting every major failed economic policy coming out of Washington that has added $5 trillion to our national debt.”

    Maryland Reporter profiles the four Maryland Democrats who voted against the tax hike, providing an explanation for their decisions.

    * Courtesy of Blue Virginia, watch Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) deliver a speech about the Virginia General Assembly session at a fundraiser for his reelection in Arlington.